Lucrezia Marinella (1571–1653), also called Marinelli, was a Venetian author and poet.
Born in Venice in 1571 to Giovanni Marinelli, physician and humanist, Marinella was educated at home. According to one of her contemporaries, Giovanni Stringa, she was confined to her room all day long—in accordance with the customs of the time—where she passionately devoted herself to literary studies. She was also renowned for her philosophical culture and musical prowess.
In addition to many religious works, she is best known for her treatise, La nobiltà, et l’eccellenza delle donne, co’ diffetti, et mancamenti de gli huomini [The Nobility and Excellence of Women and the Defects and Vices of Men], first published under a slightly different title, Le nobiltà et eccellenze delle donne: et i diffetti, e mancamenti de gli huomini , in 1600. This was followed by an amended edition with additional chapters the subsequent year. This work can be considered part of the contemporary querelle des femmes, the debate on the status of women, and as an explicit response to Giuseppe Passi’s deeply misogynistic treatise, I donneschi difetti [The Defects of Women] (1599). In many instances in her treatise, the author directly addresses the latter and his claims. It is divided into two parts: in the first, she discusses the virtues of women, and in the second, the vices of men.
Marinella has been associated with the second Venetian Academy founded in 1593. First, The Nobility of Women was published by Giovanni Battista Ciotti, one of the academy’s members and its official publisher. Moreover, multiple members of the academy wrote sonnets praising Marinella, and she dedicated the aforementioned work to an academician, Lucio Scarano. In addition, it is likely that Ciotti asked Marinella to write this work, since she stated in the first edition that she had had only two months to write it. It seems as though the Venetian Academy may have played an active role in promoting the equality of women in reaction to the publication of Passi’s I donneschi difetti, since one of its founding members, Giovanni Nicolò Doglioni, published Moderata Fonte’s Il merito delle donne [The Worth of Women] in 1600, eight years after her death.
She died in Venice in 1653.
Zaja, Paolo. “Marinelli, Lucrezia.” In Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani volume 70 (2008) http://www.treccani.it/enciclopedia/lucrezia-marinelli_(Dizionario-Biografico)/ (accessed June 2, 2016)
Firpo, Massimo. “Ciotti, Giovanni Battista.” In Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani volume 25 (1981) http://www.treccani.it/enciclopedia/giovanni-battista-ciotti_(Dizionario-Biografico)/ (accessed June 22, 2016)